For 13 horrifying seconds, Arun Tiwari hangs from the 19th-floor balcony of a Mumbai high-rise, before plunging to death.
At his home in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, Arun’s brother Vinay Tiwari says he couldn’t bear to watch the video that landed on his phone. Arun, 30, who worked as a security guard, had ended up as the lone casualty in a fire that broke out on Friday at Avighna Park, a residential building in Mumbai’s Lower Parel.
Recalling the events of Friday, Arun’s colleagues say they were sitting at the security office in the building complex when the fire alarm started ringing around noon. The fire was on the 19th floor of the building and they rushed up to rescue the residents.
Yogesh, Arun’s colleague, says, “We rescued three people from the flat where the fire broke out. Arun then went to check the balcony. But suddenly, the fire flared up and spread, and he got stuck there. We tried to reach him but couldn’t.”
In videos of the incident, Arun can be seen hanging from the balcony and trying to reach a window ledge on the floor below but loses his grip and falls to the ground, his body hitting a terrace extension on one of the floors during the fall. He was rushed to King Edward Memorial Hospital, Parel, where he was declared brought dead.
At their home in Hathigani village, in Prayagraj district, Vinay, 40, says he spoke to his brother around 11.30 am, less than an hour before the fire broke out in the Mumbai building.
Recalling his last conversation with his younger sibling, Vinay says, “He told us that he has sent Rs 2,000 for the family and that half of it should be set aside for our mother’s medicines. And then, sometime later, I got this video… I couldn’t bear to watch him fall off… it was frightening.”
“Every time he called, he would talk to everyone in the house, including my three children,” says Vinay, a daily wager who has been without work since last Diwali, when he injured his hand in a cracker burst. Vinay’s family and their mother Kamla Devi, 51, an asthma patient, had been dependent on Arun’s earnings. Arun’s father Lalita Prasad died around 10 years ago.
Vinay says Arun, who left for Mumbai in search of a job around 18 months ago, last came home around a year ago for their sister Shilpa’s wedding. “He helped out a lot with the wedding. He never spent anything on himself. All his money was for us,” says Vinay.
Arun’s uncle Mukesh Pandey, who lives in Mumbai and who rushed to KEM Hospital on hearing of the incident, said the security company should compensate the family for the death. “They should have provided the boys with some safety equipment before sending them into the fire. Firefighters go in with equipment,” he said.
Mumbai Police said a case of accidental death has been registered at the Kalachowki police station.
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